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Books to Break Up Break


1. East, West by Salman Rushdie

Format: short story collection

          fiction, magical realism

One of the most well-known contemporary authors is at it again with this collection of nine unique short stories based in India (East), England (West), and in-between. Rushdie discusses ideas such as culture, the migrant condition, religion, consumerism, tradition, and many more. Each story is unique in its own way, with engaging plot lines and compelling characters. The stories are short, but there is a definite depth to each one that leaves readers thinking.




2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Format: young adult novel

Genre: contemporary fiction, LGBTQ+

This award-winning novel follows Ari and his best friend Dante as they come of age together. They both have tough lives, but as long as they have each other nothing can hold them back. Not only is this book beautifully written – there are so many quotable lines – but the characters are extremely compelling. This book will cause you to laugh, to cry, and maybe even change your life.





3. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Format: young adult duology

Genre: fantasy

Do you love drama? Criminal heists? Crazy twists? Fantastic writing and unique characters? Then this duology is for you. When a gang leader is given the opportunity to rob one of the highest-security prisons in the world – and become wildly rich in the process – he assembles a specialized team of outcasts ready to risk it all. Bardugo does a great job of building the complex fantasy world in a way which isn’t overwhelming. I recommend picking up the second book when you get the first one, because both books are so compelling that you will not want to put them down!



4. Night by Elie Wiesel

Format: autobiographical memoir

Genre: nonfiction

Elie Wiesel was just a teenager in 1944, when he and the rest of his family was taken from their home and brought to the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. This relatively short novel is the compelling record of Elie Wiesel’s experience as a Jew during World War II: the death of his family, the death of his innocence, and his questioning of both his Jewish faith and his faith in humankind. Seeing the Holocaust from the point of view of someone who experienced it at a young age will make you put things in your own life into perspective: how truly horrible is the world in which we live?



5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Format: young adult novel

Genre: contemporary fiction

When Starr Carr’s best friend Khalil is shot and killed at the hands of a police officer, her world turns upside down. Not only does Starr have to deal with losing a friend, but now the world is wondering what really happened that night – and only she knows the story. With the movie starring Amanda Stenberg having been released only a few months ago and the continued fight for minority rights, this poignant novel provides a unique perspective on police brutality and those who deal with the aftermath.



6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Format: adult novel

Genre: fiction

Originally published in 1963, this shocking (no pun intended) look at a psych ward and its patients reveals the cruelty of the world and human nature. The main character, Chief Bromden, narrates the power struggle between the all-controlling Nurse Ratched and the devilish troublemaker McMurphy with surprising perception. This book is the inspiration for the Academy Award-winning movie, and, as many novels do, adds another layer to the depth of the story.



7. The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson

Format: young adult novel

Genre: contemporary fiction, retelling

Loosely based on Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, this hilarious novel is a breath of fresh air. Trixie and Ben are locked in a fued dating back to their childhood at their school for geniuses; but how thin is the line between love and hate? This book is essentially a huge mess of geeky references, witty banter, fun characters, and even a little mystery. While this may be an easy read, it is just such a fun experience that you will find yourself turning the pages faster than Harry Potter can say “Expelliarmus!”




8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Format: novel

Genre: fiction

An airplane carrying a group of schoolboys crash lands on a deserted island. Suddenly, these young boys can make their own rules and form their own society without fear of retribution. What follows is a horrifying look at the evil core of human nature as the boys devolve into evil, anarchy, and sin when society is not around to quell those desires. While the story may not be gory in the traditional sense, the psychological trauma is truly frightening. Golding’s brilliant, and relatively short, novel is both terribly entertaining and chock full of symbolism – there’s something for everyone!



9. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Format: young adult novel

Genre: fantasy, retelling

This retelling of the traditional story 1001 Nights combines lyrical storytelling with a beautiful romance to create a book worth reading. When Shahrzad’s best friend is killed by the Caliph of her country, Khalid, she vows to take him down once and for all. Weaving an enchanting new story each night, Shahrzad manages to stay alive long enough fall in love with Khalid. But can their love survive this world of secrets? There is a second book in this captivating duology, but this book functions just as well as a stand-alone.



10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Format: novel

Genre: science fiction, dystopian

In a dystopian world wracked by pollution, women are only valuable if they can give birth. Offred, one of the notorious Handmaids, must reconcile her memories of life before the Republic and her new role as the property of one man. The story is told through a series of flashbacks, accounts, and contemplations that make the reader think about women’s roles in society. One particularly disturbing scene involves a woman who must be convinced that her rape was entirely her own fault. This award-winning novel has also been recently turned into a critically acclaimed television series, available on Hulu.

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